By Ben Tinsley
PLANO — Chabad of Plano will recognize former Collin College President Dr. Cary A. Israel and local resident Bradley Rossel for their contributions to the community at a special gala Sunday, April 17.
The event takes place at The Collin College Spring Creek Campus, John Anthony Theatre, 2800 West Spring Creek Pkwy. in Plano.
Guest speaker will be Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard H. Bernstein — a nationally recognized advocate for disabled rights who has been legally blind since birth.
Rabbi Menachem Block, executive director of Chabad of Plano, said this is the event’s 16th year.
The master of ceremonies for the evening is Bernie Feiwus, Rabbi Block said.
“He is a dear friend and supporter of Chabad and a good friend of the honoree Cary Israel,” the rabbi said. “At JC Penney he was SVP and COO of JCP Direct. At Neiman Marcus he was president and CEO of NM Direct. He is now retired.”
Dr. Cary A. Israel
Dr. Israel will receive the Florence Shapiro Distinguished Leadership Award, created in 2008 to acknowledge leaders in the city who have dedicated themselves to significant impact on the quality of life in Collin County, Rabbi Block said.
Dr. Israel, Rabbi Block said, is a person who has consistently given support and encouragement to the development of the Plano community.
“He has given steadfast support for Chabad of Plano and he is a tremendous leader in the Plano-Collin County community,” the rabbi said. “He successfully grew and expanded the college with an impressive library and he has been on so many boards.”
During Dr. Israel’s 16 years as president of Collin College, it grew to 52,000 students. During that time, several impressive libraries and conference centers were constructed. The new Collin Higher Education Center was built in McKinney, and the new Dr. Cary A. Israel Health Sciences Center was recently dedicated in his honor, Rabbi Block said.
Under Dr. Israel’s leadership, Collin College received numerous national awards for excellence in education, raising the profile of the community college educational system, both in the Plano community and beyond.
Meanwhile, Dr. Israel served on the legislative committee of the Texas Association of Community Colleges, receiving many awards for personal and professional service to the community, including the National Pacesetter of the Year by the National Council for Marketing and PR, and Citizen of the Year by the Plano Chamber of Commerce. In 2011, Texas House Resolution 741 was presented to him in recognition of his leadership.
A native of Michigan, he was granted a B.A. from Michigan State University with highest honors and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Detroit’s Mercy Law School.
Dr. Israel has touched the lives of many community members, giving educational, career and emotional support — and is also a staunch and generous supporter of Chabad of Plano’s numerous causes, the rabbi said.
Dr. Israel and his wife Trudy currently reside in Springfield, Illinois. Their daughter, Kendre Israel, is married to Miles Janssen.
In email correspondence, Dr. Israel said he is both honored and humbled to receive this coveted award.
“However, this leadership award certainly belongs to all of the people who have helped us realize the goals that were established by the various organizations I have been so fortunate to be associated with over the last 16 years,” Dr. Israel said. “I want to thank all of them for allowing me to be actively involved.”
In response, Dr. Israel said, the community has many blessings.
These include Chabad of Plano, quality health care organizations, stellar businesses, superb elected officials, an engaged community, fantastic schools and colleges — especially the faculty, staff, and students — taxpayers, and many more who provide great leadership and wonderful support in their community, Dr. Israel added.
“On a personal note, I believe I became a better leader because of regular attendance at Chabad of Plano’s weekly Torah and Talmud learning with one of the finest rabbis I have ever known — Rabbi Menachem Block,” Dr. Israel said. “The lessons learned helped and inspired me to be a better leader. I will be forever grateful. … All my successes and all my contributions come from Hashem. I will continue to strive to be a better leader and a better Jew.”
Bradley Rossel, a special needs individual, will be presented with the Chesed Award. “Chesed” is Hebrew for “kindness.”
Rabbi Block said Bradley Rossel is a master at overcoming obstacles — starting with hi
s own special needs.
“He is a great shining example of the theme our guest speaker will be discussing,” Rabbi Block said. “He is a natural fit for the award. He has overcome obstacles, given of himself generously and asked for nothing in return. He has a wonderful personal, powerful energy to him which is appropriate for the awards of the evening.”
Rossel was the first of triplets born in 1974 to Cary and Beverly Rossel of Dallas. (His siblings are Ilana and Jeremy.) From an early age, it was evident Bradley Rossel possessed that special spark that drove him to both excel and help others, his parents said.
Bradley Rossel became a respected athlete in the Special Olympics as early as age 12 and ultimately a part of Chabad of Plano.
He is a coach, an athlete and a full-time volunteer at the JFS Food Pantry.
Although it was evident early on that Rossel would have special needs, his parents showed him unconditional and unwavering love that allowed him to grow up into a confident, loving and capable man.
His family pushed the focus away from his challenges, and encouraged him to venture into areas where he could succeed and flourish with his own amazing abilities, the rabbi said.
Bradley’s mother, Beverly Rossel, said her son deserves the award because he has truly made the world a better place.
“He has made our family so much better than what it could be,” she said. “We really appreciate him. He’s just lovable. And extremely close to his brother and sister.”
His father, Cary Rossel, said he is thrilled his son is being honored.
“He has a really great attitude,” Cary Rossel said. “He is a really remarkable young man. He never could ride a bicycle and there are other things he is not capable of that he needs help doing, but he fought all the odds and accomplished what he wanted to accomplish.”
Rossel became a Special Olympics athlete at 12 and remains a crucial part of the organization today.
Cary Rossel remembered when it became time for the b’nai mitzvah — his son Bradley was adamant he would study alongside his brother and sister. And sure enough, on the bimah, Bradley Rossel recited his Torah portion perfectly and with great composure — and a huge beaming smile on his face.
Bradley Rossel ended with the statement, “They told me I couldn’t do it.”
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the congregation,” his father said.
Rossel graduated from Richardson High School in 1993 and after graduation stayed in the school’s Special Education program until age 21.
While there, Bradley was manager of many of their sports teams.
Currently, Rossel serves as a full-time volunteer at the Jewish Family Service Food Pantry. He applies his skills and abilities to help community members.
“Really, he is famous,” his mother said. “Anywhere we go, Bradley runs into somebody in the community he has helped or went to school with. He never meets a stranger. He knows every coach, every assistant, and every ticket taker.”
Bradley’s mother clearly adores him and helped him focus his thoughts when recently asked questions about his award.
She said her son is a huge presence on the local Special Olympics scene.
“Bradley is an athlete, but he has opted to ask to step down because of his age… so he can help train some of the other athletes who aren’t sure what to do out on the court,” she said. “So they call him ‘The Captain.’ ”
It is clear Rossel’s mother very much adores him in the way she helps lovingly prod him to give answers.
“He’s very humble,” his mother said.
Bradley Rossel said when his parents ask him what he wants for his birthday he always asks them to donate money to the less fortunate through the JFS Food Pantry.
He’s very proud of this award.
“I’ve won a lot of awards but this is a special one,” he said. “I love helping everybody. It’s on the top of my heart every day.”
Richard H. Bernstein
Despite being blind since birth, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard H. Bernstein drove forward and attained not only a graduate degree, but also a postgraduate degree in law before being elected to the Supreme Court of Michigan.
During his comments, Bernstein will discuss what it was like to use his life experiences to overcome obstacles, break down stereotypes and change perspectives.
“I’ve been looking forward to this,” Bernstein said. “I’m really excited about coming and spending some time in Dallas.”
Bernstein said it is a pleasure to be part of an energetic and enthusiastic event such as this.
“I’m delighted to be a part of it — to have a chance to participate,” he said.
He said he is going to discuss the value that comes from life experiences and the idea of spiritual connectivity. Additionally, he said he is going to touch on why some good people suffer through bad experiences.
“Those who have it hard are really blessed with a wonderful life experience because it provides you the opportunity to affect the lives of people,” he said.
For instance, he said, he suffered a catastrophic accident when he was struck by a bicyclist in New York and was in the hospital for an extended period of time.
“But I worked with my pain and transitioned from a very difficult and challenging period to do marathons,” he said.
In his spare time, Bernstein is a runner, completing 18 marathons and five Iron Man competitions.
Blind since birth, Bernstein began his eight-year term on the Michigan Supreme Court in January 2015.
He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Michigan and earned his Juris Doctorate from Northwestern University School of Law.
During his private practice, he represented the Paralyzed Veterans of America in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice in an action against the University of Michigan when alterations to the stadium failed to accommodate disabled visitors.
This case helped establish guidelines that are now used by all commercial facilities across the U.S.
Other landmark cases helped establish precedents for accessibility in public transportation and road construction.
Among his many honors, Justice Bernstein has been named “Michiganian of the Year” by the Detroit News, listed in Crain’s Detroit Business’ 40 Under 40, and received The Regeana Myrick Outstanding Young Lawyer Award for outstanding commitment to public service, as well as myriad other awards for his unwavering commitment to equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities.
In 2013, Bernstein was inducted into the National Jewish Hall of Fame.
The Chabad of Plano’s “Gathering Of Inspiration” event (named after Hakhel, the Jewish Year of Gathering) officially starts at 5 p.m. April 17. A special buffet dinner begins at 6 p.m. followed by the program at 7 p.m.
The cost is $60 per person for open seating and $90 per person for reserved theater seating.
Event chairs are Marla Buskin, Karen Glanger, Bonita Gluckman, Sharona Ohayon and Sheryl Pidgeon, Rabbi Block said.